Socialist Worker

John McDermott: union activist sacked for representing members

Issue No. 2142

Unison members in Leeds on strike in defence of their convenor John McDermott

Unison members in Leeds on strike in defence of their convenor John McDermott

Unison union members in Leeds and across the country were shocked and angered last week at the news that East North East Homes Leeds (ENEHL) had sacked John McDermott.

John is the convenor of Leeds local government Unison branch and a member of the union’s national executive.

He was charged with the “disobedience of orders”. Management’s order was not to represent and email Unison members.

John exercised his statutory right to represent and contact the members he was elected to represent. Because of this management suspended John last year. He has now been sacked.

His hearing took place over three days and finished Friday 27 February.

Brian Mulvey, Unison’s branch secretary who represented John, described it as “the worst hearing I have ever been involved in”.

John Allan, a Unison steward who also accompanied John to the hearing, said, “It was a complete joke.”

The letter confirming John had been sacked was hand delivered to his home on Tuesday of last week – the day that Unison members took strike action in his defence.

Offices were closed and services were seriously disrupted.

One Unison member said, “Some members were in shock when the news came through.

“All John has done is stand up for his members.”

This attack comes at the same time ENEHL has unilaterally changed workers’ terms and conditions and announced up to 62 job losses.

Jon Rogers, a member of Unison’s national executive, told Socialist Worker, “John’s sacking is an absolute scandal.

“The trade union movement as a whole needs to respond to the wave of victimisations of militant trade union activists.

“A number of Unison members are facing victimisation.

“Unison must give the fullest support to John’s colleagues to help them fight this.

“We should also be placing demands on the Labour government to stop these victimisations and replace the burden of proof in trade union cases as is already the case in some discrimination cases.”

Unison stewards have voted for further industrial action and John has lodged an appeal.

Unison is also lodging a legal claim for interim relief.

Please send messages of support to the workers at [email protected] or to John McDermott at [email protected]

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Article information

Tue 10 Mar 2009, 18:32 GMT
Issue No. 2142
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